3D TLC NAND the Next Dimension of Storage...

By Shawn Adams - 2016-02-16


Last week we announced the production of TLC 3D NAND that comes less than a year after we first introduced the innovative 3D NAND to the market, delivering three times the capacity of existing planar storage solutions.

The arrival of TLC 3D NAND is well timed for our customers who are demanding greater storage capacity, a need for improved performance and better power efficiency --- all of which are key attributes that system designers of laptops, mobile devices, and servers are requiring to meet today’s rising data movement needs. According to Gartner, from 2014 to 2015, petabytes within the SSD storage market grew by 73 percent year over year . This significant industry growth is a direct result of the volume, velocity and variety of today’s data creation and is driving the need for advanced architectures that are designed with 3D NAND as the storage foundation.

In addition to the growth of SSDs, data storage opportunities for NAND continue in embedded markets like automotive, industrial, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things. Acknowledging these customer demands, we are designing our own suite of client, hyperscale and mobile computing solutions that use both our MLC & TLC 3D NAND products. Immediately delivering on the new requirements for storage in personal computing systems, our TLC 3D NAND-based consumer and client SSDs will reach general availability this spring and summer, respectively.

Distributed across all market segments, we expect the majority of our total NAND flash output to be on 3D NAND by the fall of 2016.

How are we doing it? --- Architected to achieve industry-leading densities, we stack 32 storage tiers to achieve the highest-capacity NAND die available today . With the proven capabilities of floating gate technology, early adopters have realized higher density, experienced better performance and reliability. Together with our partner Intel, we are also currently working on a next-generation 3D NAND design that will even further extend our capacity leadership.

Traditionally, flash has been built in a planar, or two dimensional structure – much like a one-story building. When we wanted to add space, we had to make the data cells (the rooms in the building) smaller. With 3D, we’re building a vertical building – like a skyscraper. 

The ability to achieve this great milestone is extremely rewarding for our team. With a long history of collaborating with Intel over the last decade to drive flash technology we have been able to have a dramatic impact on solid-state storage. During those 10 years, we’ve reduced the number of flash die it takes to hold 32GB from 16 to just 1 – see chart below.

It’s not hard to see why this capacity scaling is needed to meet the demanding storage needs for today’s mobile devices and data centers. Making 3D NAND absolutely critical.

If you’re interested in reading more about our leading-edge NAND process technology, see our 3D NAND Technology page.

1 Gartner, Inc., Forecast: NAND Flash Supply and Demand, Worldwide, 1Q13-4Q16, 4Q15 Update, Joseph Unsworth, 23 December 2015
2 Capacity difference based on comparison between Micron 384 Gb TLC 3D NAND die and other industry 3D NAND TLC

Amit Gattani

Shawn Adams

Shawn Adams is Senior Client SSD Product Manager at Micron.